Thursday, January 05, 2006


You ask what I meant when I said that shutting down emotional discharge is in the way of eliminating racism?

A few posts back I was talking about crying in schools. I mentioned that emotional release is key to eliminating racism. How so?

First of all, racism is just a symptom. Where the real starting place is, is disrespect of young people. And here comes the big word--adultism.

That's where it all begins. If we wipe out adultism racism shall be no more. What?

What is racism? It's confusing misinformation as reality and then thinking about and treating someone badly based primarily on skin color or ethnicity. (Internalized racism involves believing the misinformation about yourself, etc.) This goes completely against our true human nature. No baby is ever born racist. So what happens to that baby? She is not recognized as being powerful and completely in charge of her life! The young one, the new one, is treated as though she were stupid, not yet fully human. Bing! Doesn't that sound eerily like what racism is too?

So racist, oppressive pattens get set in when we are children by how the well-meaning adults, who love us very much, treat us and think about us. We take on the behavior--and most of us fight it pretty hard along the way--and revert to it especially when scared or stressed out. Unless ...

Ah, but the good news. We humans have a built-in natural healing process. When it is utilized, even the most insidious of messages cannot replace our innate wisdom. Release of tension, hurt and the emotions created by that through laughing, crying, trembling, angry talking or shouting, and yawning can block the misinformation from becoming our new rigid thinking. Our society is bent on stopping this discharge process from day one. Parenting magazines are chock full of the pablum they hope to pass as intelligent advice. The writers seem to think parents are as dumb as they also seem to think babies are.

Babies understand everything. This is a concept I was reminded of recently among parents I stay in touch with online. If we treat babies as though this were true--even though it flies in the face of all our training, conditioning, upbringing, we'd find a whole new generation of powerful, zestful humans. This means explaining everything you are about to do and your plans for the day to this newborn. Yes, we spare them of details which are violent or terrifying--unless it involves them and then we try and explain why. "I'm taking you to the doctor and they need to look in your ear since I think you're in pain there," for example. "It might hurt for a moment but I will hold you and listen to you if you need to cry afterward."

We also ask questions of the new one and then stop and wait and observe and stay in close physical contact. We acknowledge the signals and the looks they give us--with complete delight and approval. When they need to cry we don't shut them down, we stay close.

So, this is an example and a slice of how treating a newborn would be non-adultist.

But, if it's that simple wouldn't more people already be doing this? Well, it's like this-- Adultism is every bit as insidious as racism and we all had it come at us--pretty damn hard from day one. What you witness and what is done to you goes in as a recording which repeats itself generally in your own actions. That's why society in general keeps passing on adultism and other forms of oppression. That's why I teach the listening-exchange or peer-counseling. There needs to be an inner process which helps us shed the "infection" we got by being born into this society at this point in time. The listening-exchange lets us unravel what happened and what we end up with is the truth.

For further reading see Inoculating Our Children Against Racism by Patty Wipfler. For classes on parenting and diversity trainings call Sea Ganschow at (503)341-0665 or email


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